Zanzibar epitomizes the untouched paradise island ideal; with cream-coloured sand beaches, warm turquoise waters, and never-ending rows of palm trees.
Located just off the coast of Tanzania in the idyllic Indian Ocean, the island is known for its astounding natural beauty and sense of peace and tranquillity.
Zanzibar is a budget-friendly destination in comparison to its expensive and more commercial neighbours like the Maldives and Mauritius. It’s easy to fall in love with this place with it being widely known to have something for everyone from incredible culture to spectacular landscapes. The island offers everything from inexpensive backpacker resorts which are a stone’s throw from the Indian Ocean, to luxurious five-star hotels with private beaches.
Check out our guide of where to stay in Zanzibar to plan your perfect escape!
- Where to Stay in the Zanzibar
- Zanzibar Neighbourhood Guide
- Zanzibar’s 5 Best Areas to Stay in
- 1. Stone Town – Where to Stay in Zanzibar When You First Arrive
- 2. South Coast – Where to Stay in Zanzibar for Couples
- 3. East Coast – Where to Stay in Zanzibar For First Time Visitors
- 4. Nungwi (North Coast) – Best Area for Nightlife in Zanzibar
- 5. Kendwa (North Coast) – Coolest Area to Stay in Zanzibar
- Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Zanzibar
Where to Stay in the Zanzibar
Not looking for anywhere specific? These are our overall top picks for where to stay in Zanzibar.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Zanzibar – Badolina Bungalows Double/Twin/Triple Room
These beautiful Badolina Bungalows draw guests in with their shabby-chic style rooms and relaxing, tropical atmosphere. The bungalows are located on the northern coastline of Zanzibar, and just a few steps away from one of the island’s most beautiful white beaches. It is also a short walk to the town’s best restaurants and bars.
Best Hostel in Zanzibar – zLife Hostel
Located in the heart of Stone Town, the warming zLife hostel sits within walking distance to major restaurants and bars making it a great place to stay in Zanzibar if you like to party. It has clean and traditional facilities along with its bubbly atmosphere, making it perfect for an affordable stay. It’s one of the best hostels in Zanzibar for sure.
Best Hotel in Zanzibar – Kizikula
The Kizikula can only be described as a hidden paradise. Located on the south coast near the village of Kizimkazi, the property is nicely removed from the hustle and bustle. It boasts lots of authentic nature, and beautiful coastal views of the Indian Ocean.
Zanzibar Neighbourhood Guide
Home to arguably the most spectacular beaches and crystal clear waters on the island, the East Coast is well-equipped for visitors but doesn’t have the floods of tourists like in the North.
The culture-rich town is easily accessible from both the port and airport and has good transport links to the other areas on the island. It is also the perfect location to learn about some of Zanzibar’s interesting history.
The south coast is the perfect location if you like to travel off the beaten path. Home to exclusive beachside villas, you gain a sense of having the area to yourself.
The most popular destination for travellers to Zanzibar, Nungwi is located on the northern tip of the island and is home to a great variety of beach bars and clubs.
A more relaxed area to is neighbour Nungwi, Kendwa provides stunning landscapes for guests with a ‘rasta’ vibe. Kendwa is also home to Zanzibar’s famous full moon party – a must-visit if you’re heading to the island at the right time.
Pristine white sandy beaches, jungle scenery, and a relaxed atmosphere have given Zanzibar the reputation of being one of the best destinations in the world.
Despite its relatively small size, the island has many different regions, all of which are very distinct and offer unique qualities to travellers. From hiking through luscious greenery, to diving beneath the waves into an underwater paradise – you won’t be short of amazing things to do.
Stone Town is the largest town on the island. It is the best place to stay in Zanzibar to discover the forgotten side, away from the commercial luxury beach resorts. If you want to absorb some of the island’s rich history and culture, spend your days exploring quirky buildings and cobbled alleys.
If you’re looking to zone out and find your ‘inner zen’ then the South Coast is the ultimate spot. An ‘off-the-beaten-path’ location with a tranquil atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to relax. You can explore natural beauty at your own pace, making it ideal for couples.
If you’re looking for where to stay in Zanzibar to capture those picture-perfect views from every angle, look no further than the East Coast. With plenty of breathtaking backdrops and beautifully decorated beachfront villas, the region is heavenly. It also hasn’t been reached by too many tourists yet, so you’ll get a sense of having the area to yourselves.
Finally, we have the two most popular areas for travellers heading – Kendwa and Nungwi. Both have been drawing in tourists for years with their vibrant atmospheres, luxurious resorts and spectacular beaches. Nungwi is well known for having the best nightlife with plenty of beach bars open until the early hours of the morning. Kendwa’s atmosphere is more relaxed, with small surf shacks and cool places to explore along the beachfront.
Zanzibar’s 5 Best Areas to Stay in
And now for the good bit! Here is the nitty gritty of each area, so you know where to stay for your holiday in Zanzibar.
1. Stone Town – Where to Stay in Zanzibar When You First Arrive
With Zanzibar’s incredible selection of world-class beaches, people tend to forget the island is full of fascinating culture and history! There’s no better place to explore this than the island’s largest town – Stone Town!
The quirky area is rich in culture, and boasts stone-built restaurants and bars, lining cobbled alleys. The interesting town has easy access to those postcard destinations, making it a great place to stay for your first few days in Zanzibar.
Quick Tip! We’d recommend staying near the old town, as some neighborhoods in the area can be a little sketchy.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Stone Town – Furaha Room in Balcony House
Offering a unique, beautiful, and very spacious apartment in the heart of Stone Town, this is a relaxing place to stay. You will love the roof terrace for watching sunset. With comfortable furnishings and a friendly atmosphere, you won’t find a better spot for a peaceful getaway.
Best Hostel in Stone Town – zLife Hostel
For those on a budget, we suggest zLife. It is within walking distance to plenty of restaurants and bars, as well as with having good access to transport links. Heading to Zanzibar can be quite daunting as a solo traveler, so the team at zLife offer Swahili cooking classes, and group activities to help you meet other travelers.
Best Hotel in Stone Town – Tembo House Hotel
The Tembo House Hotel has incorporated traditional Swahili designs into its beautifully decorated rooms, with wooden carved furniture including a four-poster bed. Located in the Old Town region of the city, Tembo House Hotel is within walking distance to Stone Town’s key cultural sites.
Things to See and Do in Stone Town:
- Explore Zanzibar’s history at the Old Fort
- Relax amongst greenery in Forodhani Park
- Fill your stomach at the Forodhani Gardens Food Market
- Take a boat trip to Prison Island
- Wander through the town’s picturesque narrow streets
- Learn about Zanzibar’s sultans at the palace museum
2. South Coast – Where to Stay in Zanzibar for Couples
Zanzibar’s South Coast provides visitors with a rural and off-the-beaten-path adventure. What can be best described as the tranquil and peaceful part of the island, it is the perfect place to stay if you want to relax and explore the great natural beauty at your own pace.
Its lesser-known location means there are only a few accommodation options which can make you feel like you have the island to yourself.
This is where to stay in Zanzibar for those who want to try something new.
Best Bed & Breakfast on the South Coast – Deluxe Ocean View Suite – Villa Fleur de Lys BB
If you’re ready to take the plunge and go completely off grid, this deluxe hotel is an incredible place to stay. Nestled on the southeast coast of the island in Makunduchi, the hotel is on a remote stretch of coastline away from any busy towns. The hotel prides itself on presenting tranquility and extreme relaxation. Equipped with steps leading to a picture-perfect beach, and private pools offering mesmerizing ocean views- it’s a true hidden paradise.
Best Budget Accommodation on the South Coast – Promise Land Lodge
This budget accommodation is within a private lodge, surrounded by tropical gardens and views of the spectacular coastline. A laid-back and Zanzibari-style design, the lodge has the social atmosphere of a hostel but with the facilities of a luxurious resort.
Best Hotel on the South Coast – Kizikula
Kizikula is a hidden paradise at the end of a dusty road away from commercial buildings. What is best described as raw beauty, the hotel is an other-worldly experience. Equipped with a pristine outdoor swimming pool and a perfectly located viewing deck that overlooks the Indian Ocean- its a truly magical place to stay.
Things to See and Do in South Coast:
- Go snorkelling at Jambiani Beach
- Make a day trip to Stone Town
- Visit the crystal clear waters of Kuza Cave
- Delve into the Indian Ocean waters on a scuba diving trip to Uzi Island
- Relax on one of the many south coast beaches
3. East Coast – Where to Stay in Zanzibar For First Time Visitors
The east coast of Zanzibar is the definition of laid back and cool, with its long stretches of flawless beaches which lie amongst backdrops of palm trees diving into the Indian Ocean. Debatably, the beaches are just as jaw-dropping as the popular northern coastline, which makes this area the ideal place to stay in Zanzibar if you want paradise, without the crowds.
Despite its relatively unknown charm there are a variety of accommodation options on the east coast which meet different travellers criteria, below is a cherry-picked selection of our top picks!
Best Bed & Breakfast on the East Cost – Asali Beach House
Asali Beach House is a beautiful detached four-bedroom house located a few steps from the beach. The house’s key attraction is its breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean which you can see from every bedroom (the master is the best be sure to pinch this one if you’re heading as a group). A few minutes walk to the peaceful village of Jambinai, there are local eateries and bars for you to enjoy.
Best Budget Accommodation on the East Coast – Wardi Bungalow on a Cliff
This budget-friendly villa is perfect for those whole love the outdoors. The family-run selection of villas are in the middle of nature, far away from the stress of civilization, with a unique view of the sunset. This is an epic place to stay if you want an off-the beach track adventure.
Best Hotel on the East Coast – The Sands Beach Resort
The Sands Beach Resort is a luxurious hotel mid-way along Zanzibar’s east coast. It is home to a private swimming pool overlooking the waterfront, a private sandy beach, and multiple terraces providing breathtaking views. There is even a dive-school onsite!
Things to See and Do in East Coast:
- Relax on the area’s beautiful selection of beaches
- Attempt kitesurfing
- Visit the Monkey Hut ecosystem
- Go on a beach bar crawl
- Go sailing on a local boat
- Visit the area’s best snorkeling spots
4. Nungwi (North Coast) – Best Area for Nightlife in Zanzibar
Probably the most popular area for visitors in Zanzibar, the north town of Nungwi provides visitors with the perfect mixture of spectacular beaches and vibrant nightlife. Nungwi is littered with a variety of places to stay along with a plethora of restaurants, bars, and activity providers – there is plenty to do! This includes off-road buggying through sand dunes, scuba diving and sea kayaking.
Nungwi has proven popular as it is unaffected by the tide, and you can enjoy beach access all day long!
Best Bed & Breakfast in Nungwi – Badolina Bungalows Double/Twin/Triple Room
These shabby chic style Bungalows are on the beachfront of Nungwi village, just a few minutes’ walk from local beach bars and restaurants. Set in a tropical garden, equipped with towering coconut trees, hammocks, and rope swings, its the perfect place to stay in Zanzibar if you’re looking to relax. The bungalows are only a few steps away from one of the island’s most beautiful white beaches.
Best Hostel in Nungwi – Homeland Swahili Lodge
Homeland Swahili lodge is perfect for those who are ready to mingle! Home to a 10-bed dorm room, the lodge has a bustling atmosphere. Located just 10 minutes from Nungwi’s beach bars, and 700 meters from Baobab Tree, it’s perfect for those ready to explore.
Best Hotel in Nungwi – Aluna Nungwi
This jungle-style hotel has the perfect mix of traditional Zanzibar with a modern twist. The hotel is happy to organize an array of leisure including snorkeling trips, sunset cruises, and scuba diving. It is a great place to stay in Zanzibar if you want to spend your days exploring its incredible outdoors.
Things to See and Do in Nungwi:
- Visit Baobab Beach Tree
- Go on a sunset dhow cruise
- Relax on Nungwi Beach
- Go off-roading
- Party the night away at Cholo’s Beach Bar
- Go scuba diving
- Visit a turtle sanctuary
5. Kendwa (North Coast) – Coolest Area to Stay in Zanzibar
Kendwa neighbors the more famous Nungwi, with slightly calmer vibes. Just off the coast are a great host of incredible coral reefs, making it a hotspot for snorkeling and diving. Nicknamed as having ‘rasta’ beach vibes, Kendwa has a great selections of beautiful beaches which are equipped with laid-back beach bars.
Despite its calmer atmosphere, a few times a year as the sun goes down Kendwa hosts incredible full moon parties attracting tourists from all over. If you’re heading to Zanzibar at the right time, it’s an incredible event to join!
Best Bed & Breakfast in Kendwa – Hamia Zanzibar villa 1.
Located on the outside of Kendwa Village, this villa is home to a quiet atmosphere in a private gated area. Only a ten-minute walk from the area’s charming beaches, Hamia Villa allows you to get the best of both worlds with a place to escape the busy beach bars. Rooms are equipped with large balconies, some of which have magnificent panoramic sea and garden views
Best Budget Accommodation in Kendwa – Lazy Beach Hotel
A beach side, but budget-friendly, option, Lazy Beach Hotel provides guests with modern facilities and stunning views of the coastline. The hotel has large en-suite rooms, a roof terrace, and a beach-side outdoor swimming pool.
Best Hotel in Kendwa – Kendwa Rocks Hotel
Primely located on Kendwa Beach, this hotel has guest rooms with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. The hotel is surrounded by gorgeous, luscious gardens, and is home to a selection of activities to keep you entertained, including volleyball, snorkeling, and canoeing. This is the ultimate place to stay for adventure lovers!
Things to See and Do in Kendwa:
- Experience Zanzibar’s full moon party
- Relax on Kendwa Beach
- Try an open water diving course
- Let your hair down at Sunsea bar
- Go kayaking off the northern coast
- Fly high on a parasail
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Zanzibar
So, that’s the paradise island of Zanzibar! We hope we’ve helped you navigate where to stay in Zanzibar!
From backpacker hostels, to luxury beachside resorts and authentic homestays, there’s a slice of paradise for everyone. So, what are you waiting for? Get planning, this stunning Indian Ocean island is waiting for you to explore!
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
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